County: San Mateo
Day 1: Skyline Ridge to Windy Hill: 8.6 miles
Day 2: Purisima Creek Redwoods to Purisima Creek Open Space Preserve: 7.3 miles
Day 3: Skyline Trail to Wunderlich and Huddart County Parks: 5.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult.
Explore the Peninsula on the Ridge Trail
These trails offer a chance to see the wide variety of natural beauty the Peninsula has to offer. Book lodging in nearby Los Altos and make it a fun mini-vacation. Below are guides for each day, using 2 cars. If you’re not up for a multi-day trek, try any of these as a standalone hike. Each day you will need a lunch, plenty of water, and sun protection. Warning: many of these trailheads are somewhat difficult to locate as you are driving on Hwy 35.
Car Shuttle, Parking and Turn-by Turn Directions and Pro-Tips – This assumes you will have 2 cars
Day 1: Skyline Ridge Open Space to Windy Hill – 8.6 Miles
Enjoy the Peninsula’s finest views and rolling grassland on these ridgeline trails. Climb through open grasslands to high knolls with moderate elevation gains and losses. Enjoy sweeping views of the San Mateo Coast and Santa Clara Valley. The route has narrow hiking trails and wide ranch roads on duff-covered to gravelly or rocky surfaces. Note: Once you reach Rapley Road there is a 0.7 mile gap in the trail. To get to the next segment walk north along Skyline Blvd. These exposed ridgetops can be foggy and windy; trails on south- and west-facing slopes offer only intermittent shade.
Ridge Trail Windy Hill Open Space Preserve Map
Ridge Trail Skyline and Russian Ridge Open Space Preserves Map
Midpen Regional Open Space – South Skyline Map
Day 2: Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve – 7.3 miles
Five trails in Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve link together for a challenging loop through forested canyons and over high ridges with ocean views. Hikers lose more than 1,000 feet of elevation in the first 2 miles and regain it on a steady climb out of the canyon.The Craig Britton Trail for hikers is a relatively level trail through a majestic redwood forest. Summer fog sometimes bathes the forested areas, while the open, south-facing ridges may be hot.
Ridge Trail Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve Map
Day 3: Wunderlich and Huddart County Parks – 5.8 Miles
Follow the gently graded Skyline Trail through redwood and Douglas-fir forests just below the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Discover unusual spring wildflowers along one of the few remaining segments of the old California Riding and Hiking Trail, a trail system established in 1954. Take this easy, shaded trail on a summer day when you need a retreat from the valley heat.
Ridge Trail Wunderlich County Park to Huddart County Park Map
Wunderlich County Park Map
Huddart County Park Map
A little further…
Black Mountain backpacking in Monte Bello Open Space
Nearby Places to Eat:
Alpine Inn – Historic outdoor beer garden
Alice’s Restaurant – Plenty of seating out back and on the side, complete with horseshoe pits. Can get hectic with bikers on the weekends.
Bell Tower Cafe – Casual lunch
Bumble – Child friendly farm to table fare
The Post – Comfy American eaterty and cocktails
Tin Pot Creamery – Dessert
Looking for more curated adventures? Check out the Official Guide Book to the Bay Area Ridge Trail – it’s packed full of useful information for planning hikes, backpacking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trips with maps, detailed trail descriptions, curated trips and more.